As a business stakeholder, you want a good return on your marketing investment and growth that aligns with your goals. You want to invest your resources wisely. You have many options available: print, TV, radio, direct mail, trade shows and event marketing, PR, social media, email and more. But they all break down into two categories: online and offline. Is online marketing the right way for you to go?

There are three questions to ask that can help you make this decision. The first question is:

“Do I need new customers?”

Perhaps your business has a sufficient, reliable customer base with high lifetime value and repeat business. Maybe your current sales force has more leads coming in than they can handle and you’re not ready to expand your sales team. Maybe you need to invest in more infrastructure before accommodating additional customers. If you have reliable information that leads you to believe your sales funnel is fully stocked and not in future jeopardy, perhaps online marketing is not needed at this time.

Most businesses, however, are not in this position and always need new lead sources. Diversifying where your business comes from protects you against a sudden dry-up if something happens to one of your sources. So, if your answer to this question is “Yes, we need more customers,” then the second question to ask is:

“Are my customers online?”

Look at the demographic of your target market. Are they Internet users? Chances are your customers are online a lot.

86.75% of Americans use the Internet. In 2014, the average American spent 2.5 hours per day online. The United Nations’ telecommunications agency predicts there will be almost 3 billion Internet users by the end of 2016. That’s almost half the world’s population.

If your customers are online, you need to be in front of them. Which leads to the third question:

“Why do I need to be in front of my customers online?”

Because the Internet influences people’s buying habits. Every year the Internet generates $2.2 trillion in retail sales. According to the Digital Influence Index, Americans rate the Internet as being nearly as influential as family and friends when it comes to purchasing decisions. For Canadians, the Internet has already exceeded the importance of family and friends in this regard!

Non-retail businesses are directly affected, too - 81% of B2B purchase cycles now begin with an Internet search. Leads that come in via web search have a 14.6% close rate compared to a 1.7% close rate for outbound marketing leads.

Are you a small business or in the manufacturing sector? Before the Internet, it may have been necessary for you to use a third party to acquire customers and sell your goods and services. With the Internet, that’s no longer necessary. You can now go online and directly acquire customers yourself or even sell your own products and services, cutting out the middle man in the process. This leaves more resources to direct into infrastructure, marketing and production.

Making the Decision

There are certain business situations in which online marketing isn’t your best allocation of time and resources. In those cases, we encourage you to direct your time, attention and dollars toward what will bring you the highest long-term ROI. But if you need new customers and your customers are online, a well-designed and expertly-executed Internet marketing strategy will move you closer to your business goals.

If you’d like to talk more about Internet marketing and how it could fit into your business’ marketing strategy, contact us today.